April 26th, 2011
Groups Seek FCC Public-Interest Spectrum Use Inventory
While broadcasters have called on the the Federal Communications Commission to do a spectrum-use inventory before trying to reclaim broadcast spectrum for broadband, an alliance of public-interest groups is advising the commission to conduct a public-interest broadcast spectrum inventory before proceeding to reclamation.
The groups, which include the Campaign Legal Center, NOW, Benton Foundation, Media Alliance and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told the FCC in comments Monday that there is not enough evidence on either side of the argument.
Those two sides are those, led by the Consumer Electronics Association, who have concluded broadcasters are not using spectrum efficiently and are pushing the FCC to repurpose it, and broadcasters who argue that multicasting and mobile DTV and their unique local news public service offerings are prime examples of their efficient use of spectrum. “This incongruence of opinions, supported by little evidence on either side, underscores the need for the Commission to collect and analyze data on how broadcasters are serving their communities,” the groups argue. Specifically, the groups want the FCC to use its already-approved new reporting form (355), which requires broadcasters to list the type and number of hours of programming on primary streams and multicasts. “Armed with this information, the Commission will be able to determine whether or not broadcasters are using their digital channels and if they are airing programming responsive to the public.”